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Old Faithful and the Buffalo

Continuing our visit to Yellowstone National Park…

While we waited for Old Faithful to perform, we wandered over to Old Faithful Inn, an old dowager of a National Park’s hotel.  The fascinating thing about the Inn is that it was built from stones, wood and other materials that were primarily brought from within a 5-mile radius, according to a tour guide we heard in the massive five-story lobby.  The lobby has large, rustic logs that have been burnished by time.  Nearby stairways are mini-sculptural wood pieces that look like antlers.  The lobby’s giant fireplace is also most impressive.

Materials to build Old Faithful Inn mostly came from within 5 miles

The main part of the hotel, built in 1904, has a dining room, also massive.  There are newer wings as well.  If you decide you’d like to stay in the Inn, plan to book ‘way far ahead!  The rates, unless you are willing to do without an in-room bathroom ($96), range from that low to a $500 price tag for a suite.  There are no modern amenities – no phones, TVs, air conditioning and Internet hook-ups, etc.  You are meant to get your entertainment from nature while at Yellowstone and, if you look around, you won’t be disappointed.

There are two other hotel properties nearby, but since we were afraid we’d miss Old Faithful’s performance, we didn’t stop to see them.

On to Points North

Heading north from Old Faithful, we passed the Upper Geyser Basin and were briefly sad that we had missed seeing the buffalo we’d seen on the way into the Old Faithful area.  We needn’t have worried about missing the buffalo because after a few minutes we encountered a whole herd of them stopping traffic when we landed in Lower Geyser Basin.

Crossing the road

Enormous (about 3,000 lbs.) and shaggy from molting their winter coats, the buffalo (or bison) munched their way around the fields, but some, without any seeming reason, decided to saunter across the road.

STOP!! Traffic stopped in both directions.  It was that or potentially go head to head with the beasts.  They absolutely did not care about the vehicles lining the road and began a road crossing, one by one, as if following some silent cue.  They came very close to our car.  So, we stayed put and watched.  For about ½ hour we watched.  It was quite entertaining.

Herds of buffalo stopped traffic

At one point, we even saw babies – calves – nursing from the momma bison in the middle of the road.  They are big!

Herds of buffalo stopped traffic

We didn’t feel inclined to rush, as we’d come to see wildlife, and this certainly qualified as wildlife.  We’ve since spoken with other people who never saw buffalo, but we saw them in abundance, both on our first day in the Park and the following day.

What we didn’t see were bear.  Everyone warns about bear and how dangerous they are.  We saw none of them.

We did see other creatures, including birds, deer and a bald eagle’s protected nest. You weren’t allowed to stop and we got a picture of the nest, but the picture, from our moving car with one chance to get the shot and an army of cars pushing behind, has only the nest, not the bird’s head peeking above the rim of the nest.)

Mammoth Hot Springs and the Elk

On our second day at Yellowstone, we decided to contend with a half hour stoppage between the locations called Madison and Norris.  Construction on a new bridge is slowing things and they only allow one lane to travel at a time, while the other direction sits and waits.

When we finally reached Mammoth Hot Springs, we stopped to see phenomenal things that the earth is doing.  In essence, the earth is perking, with colorful displays cascading down platform-like areas and pools of colorful residues formed that sweep living things in their wake.

Earth creates amazing displays

There are boardwalks that take you around to see the pools and the terraces that show the relentless bubbling and flowing that have created an other-worldly environment.

Once we’d seen the Terraces, we headed to the Mammoth Springs Hotel, where we enjoyed a visit with the extremely tame elk (we counted at least 10 drifting around on the grassy areas), totally unconcerned about humans, as they munched on the grass and totally ignored us.

Elk picnicked while humans strolled nearby

There is a small museum in addition to the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, a very attractive-looking place.  Interestingly, the Hotel’s dining area is separate from the hotel.  We figure that was to prevent possible fires from spreading as easily.

Enjoying the wildlife and humans, too

With most of the Park to drive through before dark and two falls to see from various vantage points, we did not stop to explore the hotel.  Room rates range from $87 for a room without bath to suites at $439. Again, forget the technological amenities.

(Both of the hotels above do not stay open year round.)

Come back next week for Yellowstone’s Canyon and falls and more…

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